NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have undercounted nursing home coronavirus deaths by as much as 50%

New York undercounted nursing home coronavirus deaths by as much as 50%, according to a report from the Attorney General.

A report released by New York’s Attorney General has accused Governor Cuomo’s administration of misconstruing the state’s COVID-19 nursing home deaths in a manner which could see the total number rise by up to 50%. The report has determined that the main reason for the misrepresentation is because the state only counts deaths that occurred at a nursing home facility rather than including deaths which occurred in hospital after a resident transferred there to receive further medical attention. 

“Preliminary data obtained by the O.A.G {Office of Attorney General} suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing home, which is not reflected in D.O.H {Department of Health’s} published total nursing home death data” stated investigators.

A total of 62 nursing home facilities from across the state were surveyed in the report, finding “consistent discrepancies between deaths reported to the attorney general’s investigators and those officially released by the Department of Health” the New York Times noted. The newspaper went to mention a specific facility which reported 11 deaths by early August which happened on the site of the facility. But the examination by the attorney general found that there had been 40 deaths stemming from the facility, 27 on-site and 13 in hospitals.

The report also established that a number of nursing homes “failed to comply with critical infection control policies” including failure to isolate residents who had tested positive or to screen employees for possible infections. The report states that “in conclusion, this preliminary data for the 62 facilities and time periods noted above suggests that COVID-19 resident deaths associated with nursing homes in New York State appear to be undercounted by D.O.H by approximately 50 percent” This means that the current death toll which stands at around 8,700 could in the worst case scenario be around 17,400. With New York already leading the nation in terms of COVID-19 deaths having recorded 43,734 the report is sure to bring renewed scrutiny to Governor Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic and to the extent that he mismanaged the nursing home crisis, which could have resulted in thousands of preventable deaths among the states elderly.

Most of the scrutiny stems from a Department of Health directive introduced on March 25th which mandated that nursing homes could not deny readmission to their residents “based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.” The order was heavily criticised and blamed for helping to further spread the virus among the elderly who are particularly vulnerable. Governor Cuomo rescinded the policy and announced a new one on May 10th which stated that a hospital cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless they test negative for the virus.




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